"Because of the limited number of viewpoints on these issues, the scientific — as opposed to political — nature of those viewpoints, and the distinct responsibilities of the committee, I believe I have sufficient standards which I can evaluate the agency's discretion," Leon wrote in his order.
What an understatement.
Judge Allows Challenge of FDA Tobacco Panel to Proceed
Let's take a look at who sits on the FDA Tobacco Advisory Panel in this March 2012 press release from Audrey Silk of NYC Clash:
FDA TOBACCO ADVISORY COMMITTEE: 6 JOKERS IN A STACKED DECK
The ostensible point of the FDA's new congressionally-granted powers to regulate tobacco was to responsibly oversee the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco in the name of harm reduction.
"But instead," says Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.), "the panel they've chosen to accomplish this task seems deliberately selected to steer away from that mission toward another: promoting lucrative substitutions. Far from being composed of objective and cleanly disinterested scientists, the list of participants announced so far has been shown to be deeply biased against tobacco, biased against smokers and neck-deep in pharmaceutical-rooted conflicts of interest."
Err, I don't think that we're going to see harm reduction anytime soon with these folks influencing decision makers:
¶ Jonathan Samet, the Committee's chairman, is director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, which is funded by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of nicotine replacement products and quit-smoking drugs. An activist in the stamp-out-tobacco movement since the early 1980's, he's also pursued his studies through the generous funding of anti-tobacco lobby groups and GlaxoSmithKline.
¶ Dr. Neil Benowitz scores a trifecta-- financially beholden to Pfizer, GSK, and Nabi Pharmaceuticals. Most famously, Benowitz co-authored a study whose purpose was to establish a scientific basis for the use of Pfizer's Chantix as a quit-smoking aid; thereafter he continued to act as a paid consultant in promoting the drug's use. Chantix, called "the most dangerous drug in America" in 2008 by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, has also earned a black box from the FDA as an established cause of "serious neuropsychiatric symptoms" including violence, hallucinations, seizures, uncontrolled muscular spasms, clinical depression and completed suicide. The FAA banned its use by pilots.
¶ Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami is a recipient of a grant from Nabi Biopharmacueticals to develop a vaccine (NicVAX) against nicotine use. Anti-nicotine vaccines are said to get their effect by blocking the pleasure receptors in the brain.
¶ Dr. Jack Henningfield, another paid consultant for GlaxoSmithKline, additionally owns the patent on a proprietary nicotine replacement product.
¶ Dr. Greg Connolly, a former Director of Tobacco Control for the state of Massachusetts, has long been among the most active and ardent of the Anti-Smoking advocates in the history of such advocacy. In his official capacity, and with taxpayer money, he has denigrated, banned and "denormalized" smokers. Further, according to Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, "Connolly is the most extreme anti-harm reduction person I've ever heard of."
¶ Most egregious where C.L.A.S.H. is concerned, Patricia Nez Henderson was chosen by FDA to "represent the public," as though the "public" were composed of, and only composed of, professional anti-smokers and nonsmokers. As a member of the board of the extremist Americans for Nonsmokers Rights-- a well-known anti-smoker group – Ms. Henderson's perspective is hardly "representative" of the public whose interests are directly affected by the actions of this committee and the “public,” it was reasonable to assume, the FDA meant when soliciting an advocate to fill that seat. The "public," in this case, is the consumer.
Click on the link above to read this press release in its entirety.
Thank you Audrey Silk for all of your hard work!